The diagnosis of cancer for a second family member hit our family hard. The fact that it involved Luke AND Shannon (married eight years) cast our experience into a realm all its own. For me, there are moments when I look at them and my mind goes back to their wedding–a day of promises and hope. During the service, I remember watching their faces as Luke sang a song he wrote for his beautiful bride and watching them recite their vows: “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health . . . .” Little did we know how vividly those vows would become the standard for living out each day.
Indeed, life has been hard for our family in many respects . . . let’s face it, who would ever sign-up for a double dose of cancer?!! Yet even so, we can say that God has been very, very good to us as we continue to count our blessings. I suppose that is why this verse from Isaiah has become so dear to me in recent weeks:
“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides You, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.”
Waiting is never easy, especially in this “fast-paced, gotta have it NOW, ‘time waits for no one'” world. I tend to think that the management of time and our frustration inherent in waiting is more intense now. However, Isaiah proclaims that our times are not unique when it comes to waiting. I cannot help but marvel at the patience of a God who continues to reward “those who wait for Him.”
In an odd way, it was a relief as we gathered in the hospital waiting room, trusting that our Shannon was in good hands. Hours passed . . . almost surreally . . . as we talked, read, shared stories, played games, snacked and watched the Surgical Update Board change as the progress of every patient having surgery that morning was listed. We bore the assorted fears that go with every surgery–but the truly heavy weight we bore was wondering what was to come after the surgery. Having learned over the past year that with cancer, fear lurks to pounce on even the most stalwart faith. So . . . we waited in hope, knowing that God will continue to work out His Perfect Plan in each or our lives.
Finally, Shannon’s surgeon walked briskly into the waiting room–we followed like ducks looking for crumbs; wary yet hopeful into the conference room. What came next was a lesson on what I can only call, “productive waiting” that gave us direction and hope. He started by telling us about the surgery:
- The surgery went very well–it was minimally invasive and the “mass” was removed successfully.
- He saw no other evidence of cancer but admitted that we will not know anything about future treatment until the pathology report was returned.
- He explained cancer “staging” and how it ties to treatment success rates.
Here is what he said and did that helped our family in the moment and gave us a vision for the weeks to come:
- He smiled at us with kind eyes, as he shook our hands one-by-one. (Totally bringing us “on board” as a team.)
- He told us our primary role should be to help Shannon get well enough that she would be able to leave the hospital in three to five days.
- Tying in with that, he told us to do everything we could to encourage Shannon to allow her body to rest over the next two weeks.
This may sound silly, but by equipping us with hope and direction in supporting Shannon AND Luke, our load was lightened immensely. When he left us, we felt energized as our fears slipped away! I thought about how the direction he gave us reflected the wisdom of Jesus regarding worrying:
“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
It has been eight days since Shannon’s surgery. She came home on “Day Five” and continues to gain strength each day. Family and friends have reached out in a multitude of ways as we prepare for the Celebration of Christ’s Birth. We still wait on the pathology report–not anxiously but in faith–trusting in God’s perfect timing.
A few weeks ago, a friend asked me if Shannon having surgery would “ruin” our Christmas? I must admit that I was grateful for the question as these words came out of my mouth: “Not at all! If anything, Christmas has become more precious to us as God has been with us every step of the way.” It’s absolutely true! We wait as the ancients did, on the only God who continues to care for His own.
We wait in hope for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.
May Your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in You.
Merry Christmas All!
All to His Glory!